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Wine ‘on the comeback trail’ at Wetherspoons

Pub chain J D Wetherspoon has announced strong growth in sales with year-to-date like-for-like sales up 8.3% so far.

Wetherspoons sees solid results despite 'ferocious' inflation

Announcing the figures in a trading update, JDW also said that sales were up 5.2% in the 13 weeks to 28 April 2024, with total sales up 3.3% in the quarter and 6.5% on the year.

The last week of the period last year included a bank holiday weekend, whereas this year the bank holiday was a week later. Excluding that week, like-for-like sales for the first 12 weeks of the period increased by 6.0%.

It comes as the firm announced a slashing of its drinks range, dropping 18 products, including Buffalo Trace and Lambs Navy Rum, and upping its proportion of no- and low-alcohol options.

In the year-to-date, the company has opened two pubs and sold or surrendered to the landlord 18 pubs. Most of the pubs were smaller and older, or where the company has a second pub in reasonably close proximity. There was a net cash inflow of £6.8 million from the 18 disposals.

17 trading pubs remain on the market, or are under offer, and the company currently has a trading estate of 809 pubs. Net debt is currently £685m at the end of April 2024.

Speaking about the future outlook, chairman Tim Martin said that sales in the period continued the steady recovery from the pandemic.

Guinness sales

He said that traditional ales, which had been “very slow in the aftermath of the lockdowns” were now “increasing momentum”, with Abbot Ale, Ruddles Bitter and Doom Bar showing good growth, alongside the small and micro-brewers that they served.

He said that the “gods of fashion” had smiled upon Guinness, which was “previously consumed by blokes my age, but now widely adopted by younger generations”.

Other drinks which were also selling well in the younger generations included Au Vodka, and XIX flavoured vodkas, with the latter promoted by the social media entourage Sidemen.

In addition, Martin added that “wine has been on the comeback trail” with New Zealand’s Villa Maria Sauvignon Blanc popular among Wetherspoon customers.

Also sales of Lavazza coffee were increasing, and free refills “are thought to be responsible for spontaneous exhibitions of breakdancing among retired customers”.


Martin added that the new menu had a “promising start” and reviewers had been “kind” and compared to “respected conpetitors”.

He concluded: “The company expects profits in the current financial year to be towards the top of market expectations.”

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